Palo Verde phenom was threat on offense, defense and special teams
The tone for high school football coverage in Tucson was set in the first 10 minutes of the season.
Palo Verde senior Adam Hall, fresh off a summer of hype that included snagging the crown jewel of college scholarship offers from USC, picked up a first-quarter fumble against Sahuaro and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown.
The touchdown was the first of four in the game for the versatile man-child who led his team to a 41-7 blowout by scoring in almost every way imaginable – a fumble recovery return (65 yards), a rushing touchdown (one yard), a receiving touchdown (five yards) and a kick return (80 yards).
And with that, the race to one of Tucson’s all-time great high school football seasons was on.
Hall, the 6-foot-5, 210-pound do-everything player for Palo Verde, ended the season with a jaw-dropping 38 touchdowns en route to running away with the 2008 Tucson Citizen Football Player of the Year Award.
He wasn’t just Tucson’s best offensive player, he was also the best defensive player and most dangerous special teams weapon.
“I think that it’s a big thing for me and my school to get an award like this,” Hall said. “When I think of some of the other players who got this award, it means a lot.”
Growing up an Amphi football fan, Hall said he is well aware of – and honored to follow in the footsteps of – players like Marion (1986), Mario (’90) and Antrell Bates (’96, ’97) who all were named the Citizen’s player of the year.
Hall left his mark on the Old Pueblo football scene with a versatile approach and physically dominating style of play that left little question he was the most athletic player every time he set foot on the field.
But his dominance on the field didn’t always make the year an easy one for Hall. The well-spoken, confident player has his share of critics and has been under the scrutiny of college football fans watching his every move for the better part of the past six months.
After starting his senior season at the age of 18, Hall turned 19 during the season, drawing the ire of parents of players on opposing teams.
Hall repeated the second grade, not because of grades but because of his father’s decision to hold him back a year when it was discovered Hall was left-handed and his ability to read and write were slowed by his not being properly taught how to develop those skills as a left-handed student.
But his age has hardly been the only cause for scrutiny.
When USC came to Tucson to play the University of Arizona – two teams among the five or six that are his most likely college destination – Hall was bombarded with inquiries about what color shirt he’d wear to the game.
“Sometimes it gets a little old always having to worry about what color shirt you wear to games or just anywhere,” Hall said. “Or always having to hear people talk about you. If you do anything people don’t like, they’re all over you.
“Sometimes it makes you stop and wonder why would I want to stay in Tucson? I think there are a lot of people who just don’t want to see you succeed.”
Hall has loved the recruiting done by UA – he took his official visit to the school during the Dec. 6 game against Arizona State – and grew up idolizing the Wildcats, thanks in large part to his father, the Rev. James Hall, who played for UA in the early 1970s.
James Hall made sure his son was with him at plenty of team functions and games through the years.
But as James Hall has said, he isn’t going to urge his son one way or the other in picking a college to play for.
“That’s his decision,” he said. “I’ll do everything I can to help him arrive at that decision and I’ve been very involved in the process, but this isn’t about me. This is a decision about him finding a comfort, some piece of mind for himself with where he is going to spend the next four years of his life.”
While many colleges want Adam Hall to play strong safety or even linebacker, others are intrigued by the mismatches his size would create as a wide receiver.
Playing for coach Todd Mayfield at Palo Verde, Hall didn’t see much time as a wide receiver, the position he seems most fond of playing at the next level. Instead, Hall was in the backfield most of the time while also playing nearly every defensive snap as a strong safety and proving to be Tucson’s best kick/punt return man.
“Its OK (that I didn’t play exclusively as a wide receiver) because I wasn’t doing it for me,” Hall said. “I knew I had my shot out of there (to play in college). I’m going somewhere regardless of where I played this season, so it wasn’t ever about trying to show some college recruiter what I could do at a position. I would have kicked if that’s what would have helped this team most.”
Under the watchful eyes of UA coach Mike Stoops and offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes, Hall put on a five-touchdown show in little more than one quarter against a clearly outmanned Rio Rico on Sept. 26.
In the first quarter, Hall rushed for three touchdowns and returned an interception 34 yards for a score before being benched for all but the kick return to open the second half. Hall returned that kick 80 yards for a score to start the third quarter.
Hall, one of Tucson’s most sought-after football recruits ever, likely won’t make his college choice known until signing day in February. Regardless of where he plays, though, there is no denying the legacy he left on the high school football fields in southern Arizona this year.
For more on high school sports, check out the Grammer School sports blog.
By the Numbers
stars Adam Hall is rated (out of five) by recruiting services
touchdowns scored by Hall this year, including 24 on the ground
yards from scrimmage Hall gained this season